A former Washington State University student suing the Pullman Police Department for $1 million settled his claim for an undisclosed amount.
PPD Chief Gary Jenkins was unable to comment on the settlement Thursday.
The lawsuit, filed in August in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Washington in Spokane, alleged Pullman police officers used excessive force and failed to follow department-mandated mental health training while taking Kyle North into protective custody at Jack in the Box on Aug. 17, 2016.
The amount of the settlement is unknown, but court records state “all parties in this action have been resolved.”
According to court documents, North, who suffers from schizoaffective disorder, asked the manager of the restaurant to contact police because he feared he was being followed.
The call came hours after North’s friend contacted Moscow police and expressed concern about North’s safety because of his strange behavior and belief people were tracking him on his cellphone, according to court documents.
Moscow police contacted Pullman officers and requested a welfare check on North, but officers were unable to locate North. Both responding officers at Jack in the Box – Michael Sontgerath and Doug Anderson – were aware of the requested welfare check when they contacted him, according to court documents.
When Sontgerath arrived at Jack in the Box, he asked North to follow him in his vehicle to Pullman Regional Hospital, but as they began to move toward the exit, North allegedly experienced a hallucination and refused to leave, according to court documents. North said he believed there were people outside who wanted to hurt him.
When North asked if he could walk in between the officers, Sontgerath declined.
North then began to back away from the exit. Officers told North he had to leave the business, or they would take him involuntarily, as stated in court documents.
After a few minutes, North walked toward a water dispenser to get a cup of water and was allegedly pushed up against the wall next to the customer counter by Sontgerath, according to the court documents.
Sontgerath allegedly told North, “If you fight me, you are going to get hurt,” as stated in court documents.
Seconds later, North screamed out in pain as Sontgerath allegedly broke North’s right arm while restraining him, according to court documents. Court documents indicate the injury caused ligaments to be completely ripped off the bone.
Because of the magnitude of the ligament tears, North was developing rhabdomyolysis – a condition where damaged skeletal muscles rapidly break down and release myoglobin into the bloodstream – according to court documents.
North began to ask bystanders for help, the documents state.
“You’re gonna get tased in a second. Knock it off,” Anderson allegedly told North, according to court documents.
North, face down on the floor, began praying for the officers, when Anderson, according to court documents, allegedly said, “You should pray for yourself.”
While waiting for paramedics, the officers allegedly dragged North by his legs and broken arm away from the front counter area of the restaurant, and Anderson tried to lift North to his feet by North’s broken arm, according to court documents.
When North screamed out in pain, despite being “incapacitated and fully restrained,” Anderson allegedly tased North three times in “rapid succession,” according to court documents. The document says Anderson was not certified to be using a taser at the time.
“The taser report reveals that Officer Anderson dispensed 16 seconds of electrical current into North’s body over a period of 21 seconds,” according to court documents.
Court documents allege Anderson choked North by picking him up while he was in a chokehold, causing North to allegedly lose consciousness for 22 seconds.
Once at the hospital, Sontgerath and Anderson told medical personnel they believed North was under the influence of drugs.
When asked about North’s injuries, Sontgerath said some of the scratches and bruises were from before the incident, the court documents state.
A PRH report concluded, according to court documents, the elbow fracture was a result of “police intervention and combativeness.”
In addition to the PPD, both Sontgerath and Anderson were included in the lawsuit. Jenkins was unable to comment Thursday on any disciplinary action against the officers.
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